Artwork on former prison confirmed as Banksy

The artwork on the wall of the former prison, © PA Wire/PA Images
Share this article

By Claire Hayhurst and Catherine Wylie, PA

Street artist Banksy has claimed responsibility for a painting on the side of a former prison which housed playwright Oscar Wilde.

The artwork, on the red brick wall of the former Reading Prison, shows an inmate escaping lockdown using a knotted spool of paper from a typewriter.

It was officially confirmed as a Banksy on Thursday afternoon, when the elusive artist posted a video on his Instagram account.

In the footage, told in the parody of an instruction art video, Banksy is shown stealthily executing the work entitled Create Escape.

Reading Prison is renowned as the location where Oscar Wilde served two years’ hard labour for “gross indecency”.

Although the site closed to prisoners in 2013, its future is currently the focus of fierce debate.


The Ministry of Justice, which owns the building, is due to decide by March 15 whether it will be turned into an arts venue.

There are fears that if that bid by Reading Borough Council is unsuccessful, the Grade II listed site could be sold to property developers.

A member of the public looks at an artwork on the wall of the former prison in Reading (Steve Parsons/PA)

Before the piece was confirmed as a Banksy, it was welcomed by Labour’s Reading East MP Matt Rodda.

Mr Rodda said it highlighted the “national and international importance of this unique historic building”.

Wilde was jailed after being convicted of gross indecency in 1895 following a retrial and later penned his final published work “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” highlighting the need for reform of inhumane conditions.

In December, a Banksy artwork entitled “Aachoo!!”, was discovered on the external wall of a semi-detached house in Bristol.

It depicts a pensioner in a headscarf sneezing and her dentures shooting out of her mouth.

A wall in Vale Street in Bristol (Claire Hayhurst/PA)

Back in October, a tongue-in-cheek artwork appeared on a brick wall on the side of a beauty parlour at the corner of Rothesay Avenue and Ilkeston Road in Lenton, Nottingham.

The mural of a little girl hula hooping with what appears to be a bicycle tyre was painted next to a battered bike chained to a lamp post with an infinity lock, and the bike was missing a tyre.


In July last year, Banksy’s artwork inside a London Underground train carriage, with messages about the spread of coronavirus, was removed by Transport for London (TfL).

The artist uploaded a 59-second video captioned “If you don’t mask – you don’t get” to his Instagram and YouTube pages.

It showed Banksy spray painting stencils of his famous rats inside a Circle Line train.

One of those rats looked to be sneezing blue droplets across the train window, indicating the spread of the virus.

Read More

Want us to email you top stories each lunch time?

Download our Apps
© 2021, developed by Square1 and powered by